Understanding Schmaltz – The Definition, Uses, and History

Discover the rich history of schmaltz and how it can enhance your dishes with its unique flavor. Learn about its uses, benefits, and traditional recipes.

What is Schmaltz?

Schmaltz is a type of rendered chicken or goose fat that is used in Jewish cuisine to add rich flavor to dishes. It is similar to lard or butter and is often used in traditional recipes to enhance the taste and texture of various dishes.

Uses of Schmaltz

Schmaltz is commonly used in cooking to fry or sauté foods, as well as in baking to add moisture and flavor to pastries and bread. It can also be used as a spread or condiment, similar to butter or margarine.

History of Schmaltz

Schmaltz has been a staple in Jewish cooking for centuries, dating back to the Middle Ages. It was traditionally used as a way to make inexpensive cuts of meat more flavorful and to add richness to dishes during times of scarcity.

Examples of Schmaltz in Cuisine

  • Matzo ball soup: Schmaltz is often used to enhance the flavor of the matzo balls in this traditional Jewish soup.
  • Latkes: Schmaltz can be used instead of oil to fry these crispy potato pancakes.
  • Challah: Schmaltz can be used in place of butter or oil to add richness to this traditional Jewish bread.

Benefits of Using Schmaltz

While schmaltz is high in calories and saturated fats, it can add a depth of flavor to dishes that cannot be achieved with other fats. It is also a good source of vitamin E and can be a healthier option than some processed oils.


Schmaltz is a versatile and flavorful fat that has been used in Jewish cuisine for centuries. While it may not be the healthiest option, it adds a unique taste to traditional dishes and can be a delicious addition to your cooking repertoire.

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